The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded nearly $26 million in grants to programs that will help dislocated workers in coal-impacted communities across five states. More than 7,300 workers and students impacted by the changing coal economy are expected to receive training in workforce development programs for more than 2,500 new or current jobs. The grantees will leverage an additional $31 million from public and private investors.
“These investments capitalize on the growing momentum for a diverse economy in Appalachia,” ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl said in a release. “They are strategic, collaborative and impactful projects making the region more competitive in technology, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, broadband, health and a variety of other sectors.”
Twenty-eight awards were made, many of them to programs at community colleges.
Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) in Kentucky received $3.5 million for its Eastern Kentucky Coal County Transformation project. Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will join BSCTC to create digital innovation hubs for fast-track training for high-speed jobs.
HCTC also received a $1.5-million grant to construct a 14,700-square-foot training center, with a focus on information technology, telemedicine and health sciences, mechatronics and eco-tourism/small business development.
Alabama’s Bevill State Community College (BSCC) will use a $1.92-million grant to create a Rapid Training Center that will offer accelerated workforce training. BSCC is partnering with AARP to tailor a portion of the retraining and placement support for people who are 50+ years old.
Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in Virginia was awarded $950,000. The college will partner with regional power industry employers to develop and implement a training curriculum that equips workers for entry-level employment as apprentice utility line workers and positions them for a career as journeyman-level power lineman.
Cuyamaca College’s new viticulture apprenticeship program got a show of support with a grant of nearly $260,000. The funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office will help grow the program, pay for a two-acre vineyard and cover operating costs. The program was launched in 2016 to address a shortage of qualified workers knowledgeable in vine and pest diseases, irrigation practices and harvest operations that are critical in the growing viticulture industry.
“Even though San Diego County has 115 wineries, we’re not recognized as a premium wine-growing area, and that has made finding skilled labor difficult,” Izaac Villalobos, general manager at Fallbrook Winery, said in a release. “The Cuyamaca College program will go a long way in helping to alleviate the challenge of finding skilled labor.”
Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) has received a $100,000 Career and Intermediary Program Expansion grant to bring career readiness and work-based experiences to underserved high school students. The funding comes from the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services. NICC will hire a full-time success coach to provide career counseling and assist students with transportation barriers to ensure that site tours and job shadows are available and accessible.
North Shore Community College was awarded a $150,000 grant from Gateway to College National Network to create a Gateway to College program to provide dual enrollment for high school students at risk of not graduating. Besides classes, students will receive wraparound services. Funding for the grant comes from the Barr Foundation.
Inver Hills Community College will update its IT program equipment using a $10,000 donation from Dakota Electric Association. Area school districts also received funding to improve their Career and College Readiness Pathways program.
The New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC) will use a $175,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation to help more at-risk high school students through the New Jersey Center for Student Success. The grant supports two programs: College Credit Now, which allows students to enroll in dual-enrollment courses, and College Readiness Now, which provides developmental instruction to better prepare students for college-level work.
The Prudential Foundation previously awarded $200,000 to NJCCC and the Success Center.
Portland Community College (PCC) has received two large federal grants to increase access to the sciences for underrepresented students. The college recently received nearly $2 million in grants from the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (S-STEM) program. The money will help PCC grow educational opportunities for area low-income women and minority students in targeted programs. The college also received $879,337 for its Mentoring in Manufacturing Technology Program (MeMT), and earned an additional $997,253 for the Realizing Engineering Technology Achievement (RETA) Project. Both five-year grants are focused on retention and success for these students, and help them pursue high-tech degrees and employment.
“We’ll implement some best practices in these programs and share with faculty on ways to support women and students of color,” said Tara Nelson, RETA project lead and chair of the college’s civil and mechanical engineering technology program. “There will be training for faculty, an improvement in our marketing material and web site, increased tutoring, and development of hands-on activities in the classroom.”